We’ve covered the subject of why you must have control of your website domain in previous articles, but because it is so important, and because so many folks do not actually own their website domains, we’ve decided to give it some more attention.
Perhaps you’re one of those folks who didn’t give it a thought when you hired your first web developer. After all there are so many unfamiliar things to consider, actually making sure the domain is registered to you may not have seemed that important at the time. Perhaps you paid the web developer for the domain, and “assumed” he or she would do the right thing and register it to you. Perhaps you didn’t want to be bothered with it and even asked the web developer to “handle” it for you. Whatever the cause, if you did not have your domain registered to you, you may have made a serious mistake. It may not be too late to recover ownership. Read on to better understand the importance of owning your domain.
Many website development companies automatically register their clients domains in some other name than the client’s to maintain control of the business. Their business model is built around that strategy. That’s a nice way of saying they hold you website hostage for the ransom of future business. It is not only an unfair business practice, it borders on being a criminal act if they did it without making you aware that they…not you, will own and control the future of your website property…even if it contains your brand.
Many things can change after the launch of your website to make this a serious matter. What if the web developer goes out of business? What if he or she (tragically) meets with an untimely demise? What if you decide you no longer want to do business with them? In either case, you’re stuck with a serious problem. We’ve had clients request their domains be transferred (from a previous developer) only to learn they now have to pay an exorbitant price for what they thought they owned. We’ve actually had clients who were told their domain was not for sale at any price.
If you find you do not own and control your website domain, here are some possible steps to consider. There may other legal avenues to explore that we will not cover here.
1. Contact the person who registered it and ask to have it transferred to you. This will involve setting up an account (if you do not have one) with a website registrar like GoDaddy or Network Solutions ( We like GoDaddy), and initiating a transfer request. Keep in mind the owner does not have to agree. They are not legally obligated to give up or sell the domain to you.
2. Determine what feel you is a fair price for the domain and offer to buy it from the owner. Although you may have been the one (in your opinion) to build its value, they may have been the one who kept it renewed and may be due a reimbursement at the very least. Consider the worst case scenario, that the owner is alive and unwilling to sell it cheap (or at all), and the possible impact on your business traffic if you had to start over.
3. If you’re unable to obtain ownership, you have two basic options… work with the person who owns it indefinitely, or choose another domain and start over.
We think it’s a good idea to get a trademark for the main term(s) in your domain. For example if the name of your company or brand is is “Brand A” and the domain is BrandA.com and you can obtain the tradmark (from the United States Paten and Trademark Office) of “Brand A” for your particular use, by all means do so. This is an inexpensive way to (at least) have some leverage against anyone who might attempt use your (former) domain in a way that would be unfavorable to your brand. We hope this helps yo understand the importance of this matter and helps you to understand why you must maintain control of your website domain. For more information read HERE.